Can You Match the Famous Line of Poetry to Its Author?

EDUCATION

Zoe Samuel

7 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

"Some say the world will end in fire. Some say in ice." If you're a "Game of Thrones" fan, you might think we're talking about the George R. R. Martin book series, but we're not! This "Fire and Ice" poem is by one of the most talked about authors in literary history. Can you match the famous line of poetry to its author?

Poetry has been around for centuries upon centuries. Many of you have probably had a section of your English classes dedicated to it. There are many types of poetry, like limericks, sonnets, and Haiku. You might have heard their devices like alliteration and assonance. Words like metaphor and simile should sound familiar. For thousands of years, authors and poets have been using these to create some of the most well-known pieces of poetry. How many can you match to the author?

William Shakespeare, who might be considered the most well-known author, wrote 154 sonnets. While Sonnet 18's "Should I compare thee to a summer's day," is his most popular, the author had a series of other well-known lines. 

There are other poets who are often listed as some of the greats. These include Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, John Keats, Langston Hughes, Edgar Allen Poe, and Maya Angelou. While you might recognize all their names, can you match them to their poetry?

There's only one way to find out! Will you be able to rhyme your way to a perfect score? 

Let's go!

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done.

This is "O Captain My Captain" by Walt Whitman, one of the favorite poets of angsty young men everywhere.

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Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

This is the last line of Dylan Thomas' beautiful poem, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" about refusing to let a loved one die without a fight.

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In a corner of the bedroom is a great big curtain,%0DSomeone lives behind it, but I don't know who!

This is a poem from A.A. Milne's famous "When We Were Very Young." The poem is called "Brownie, " and the rest of the verse reads: "I think it is a Brownie, but I'm not quite certain. (Nanny isn't certain, too.)".

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I wandered lonely as a cloud...

This is the first line of William Wordsworth's "Daffodils." Wordsworth was a key mover and shaker in the Romantic movement.

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Better by far you should forget and smile, Than that you should remember and be sad.

This is from "Remember," a popular and beautiful poem often read at funerals. In it, a dying person gives the living permission to move on and be happy, even if it means forgetting.

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Dulce et decorum est, Pro patria mori.

"Dulce Et Decorum Est" is by war poet named Wilfred Owen. The poem describes the horror of a chlorine or mustard gas attack. The Latin phrase that finishes the poem means, "It is sweet and proper to die for your country." Owens' writing made clear he did not believe any such lie.

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Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you %0DAs yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend.

John Donne mostly wrote about love and faith, in that order. His poems are unbelievably complicated, as in "Batter My Heart," a sonnet in which he begs God to bash his wicked heart back into shape. His best-known work is probably "The Apparition," in which a rather entitled bro-like character threatens to stalk his ex-girlfriend from beyond the grave. Fortunately, his poetry gets less entitled and much more appealing as he ages.

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“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door — Only this and nothing more.”

This is from "The Raven" which is one of Poe's most famous works. Poe is one of the great horror writers of history. Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft both nod to him as one of their foremost inspirations.

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The modest rose puts forth a thorn...

This one's pretty obscure, though the poet is not: William Blake wrote this line, which opens "The Lilly." You probably know him best for the words to the popular hymn, "Jerusalem," which was originally a poem of his.

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Love is for unlucky folk,%0DLove is but a curse.

This is a segment of "A Very Short Song" by noted satirist and wit, Dorothy Parker. She is also famous for the words, "I like to have a martini, Two at the very most. After three I'm under the table, after four I'm under my host."

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Silence the pianos and with muffled drum%0DBring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

This elegy by Auden first appeared in a play, though some claim it was written for a dead lover. Its actual title is "Funeral Blues," but it is also known by its opening line, "Stop all the clocks."

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Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

This is the most famous line from "Ozymandias," a sonnet by Shelley. He was a very famous Romantic poet in his time and a good friend of Lord Byron. His fame since has been eclipsed - most would say quite rightly - by his wife Mary Shelley, the creator of Frankenstein and mother of the genre of science fiction.

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Tis life, whereof our nerves are scant,%0DOh life, not death, for which we pant;%0DMore life, and fuller, that I want.

Lord Tennyson wrote, "The Two Voices," formerly titled "Thoughts of a Suicide" following the death of his beloved friend Arthur Henry Hallam. Other rather tragic work by Tennyson includes "The Lady of Shalott," about a woman under a curse, and "Maud," a poem that opens with the line, "I hate the dreadful hollow behind the little wood."

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People can die of mere imagination.

This is from the second of The Canterbury Tales, "The Miller's Tale," which is told to repay the Knight for the gift of "The Knight's Tale."

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“Hope” is the thing with feathers -%0DThat perches in the soul.

Dickinson suffered from ill health - possibly a form of mental illness such as depression - and a preoccupation with death. She had a sterling education thanks to her family's belief that women should be educated, studying at Amherst Academy, later the Ivy League school Amherst College.

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James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree...

"...took good care of his mother though he was only three." Another A.A. Milne about a startlingly precocious boy.

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The caged bird sings with a fearful trill, of things unknown but longed for still.

"Caged Bird" is possibly the most famous poem from Angelou's bestselling collection, "Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?"Angelou is famous for her poetry, her civil rights activism, and for her incredibly good advice, including such gems as, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

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To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;%0DI never knew but one -- and here he lies.

These words were written by Byron to his beloved dog, Boatswain. Lord Byron was one of the most small-r romantics of the big-R Romantic poets. Among his possessions at death included a box of locks of hair given to him by his many, many lovers. He was incredibly handsome and charming, despite his bad leg. For all his love affairs, Boatswain was his truest friend, and Byron personally nursed the dog through its final illness. Byron himself came to a rather sad end when he got involved in the Greeks' battle for independence from the Ottoman Empire. He and Boatswain are buried near one another in the same churchyard at Newstead Abbey, Byron's estate - Boatswain's grave is bigger than his old master's.

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He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

With his hundreds of wives and concubines, plus his wars and further affairs, it's amazing that King David managed to write any poetry. But somehow he wrote about six dozen Psalms. Some Biblical scholars dispute his authorship, but the evidence for it is convincing to others.

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Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / And I eat men like air.

These are the final words of the poem "Lady Lazarus." The Pulitzer prize-winning Plath's career was tragically cut short by suicide.

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Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth / And spikes on top of him and scales underneath!

These words come from the charming Nash poem, "The Tale of Custard the Dragon," who had a "mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose, %0DAnd realio, trulio, daggers on his toes!" Nash was notable for very silly and funny poems, and also for writing a poem called "Samson Agonistes" which - while it may be not as profound as the poem of the same name by John Milton - is a darn sight more fun to read.

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Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.

John Milton was more than a poet; he was a politician during the English Civil War. He picked the winning side and served Cromwell loyally. The quote in the question is from his most famous work, "Paradise Lost," in which he successfully set out to do for the English language what Homer did for Ancient Greek. The idea that great epics may be written in modern English may seem rather obvious now, but Milton did it first.

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Thus, though we cannot make our sun %0DStand still, yet we will make him run.

Marvell's poem, "To His Coy Mistress," quoted here, expresses how if he and his lover were immortal, he would gladly take thousands of years courting and admiring her - but they're not, so they should make love before they both die and the worms take her honor from her grave. It is a rather silly argument, as the lady in question probably noted - but it is very well made!

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My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun!

You knew the Bard had to be in here somewhere, and here he is at last. This line begins Sonnet 130, and one of the recurring figures of Shakespeare's poems appears here; the Dark Lady. The Fair Youth and the Rival Poet are the other two repeat characters who are addressed by the poems, with different types and levels of affection and respect. It's not 100% clear whether any of the three was a real person, but it's much more romantic to suppose they were.

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Cold in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee,%0DFar, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!

The Brontë sisters are best known for their novels, but they were also notable poets, publishing a book together under their male pseudonyms. Emily Brontë's only novel, "Wuthering Heights," is one of the most-adapted and most read in all of literature.

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Come live with me and be my love, and we will all the pleasures prove...

Marlowe was a contemporary of Shakespeare, and here opens his poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." The nymph had to wait the best part of the year before Sir Walter Raleigh wrote her reply, in which we learn that the shepherd didn't get the date he was after.

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As freedom is a breakfastfood%0Dor truth can live with right and wrong%0Dor molehills are from mountains made...

E. E. Cummings was noteworthy for playing with the shape of the poem on the page, as well as adapting grammar and spelling to tell the story he was trying to tell. Love him or hate him - and everyone does at one time or another - you have to admire his creativity.

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There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.

"...and when she was good, she was very very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid!" Most of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poetry was longer than this, in keeping with his name, and included "Paul Revere's Ride." But "There was a little girl" remains one of his best-known works.

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Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers, Ere the sorrow comes with years ?

This poem was written by Barrett Browning to highlight the injustice and cruelty of child labor during the Victorian era, as many children were made sick and died young due to the long hours, strenuous labor and unsafe working conditions. There is some irony in this, as Barrett Browning's family grew rich on plantation money. Barrett Browning was notable in her time, selling a great many books, and moving in impressive literary circles.

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Not for a fading summer's morn,%0DNot for a fleeting hour,%0DBut for an endless age of bliss,%0DShall rise our heart's dear flower.

Harriet Beecher Stowe is best known for "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which is one of the bestselling novels of all time and helped sway many minds to support the Abolitionist cause. Stowe also wrote poems such as "The Crocus" from which the above lines are taken.

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Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better - it's not!

Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss, was a master poet and storyteller who gave us characters like the Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, and the Lorax, who is quoted in the question. Geisel was an environmentalist and was also not afraid to speak against bigotry. With his cartoons and poems, he called out the nascent fascist movement in the US in the 1930's and helped galvanize public sentiment against the Nazis - which helped ensure that the fascists remained a fringe movement in the US, and when America entered the war, it was on the right side!

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In Xanadu did Kubla Khan%0DA stately pleasure dome decree...

A Romantic poet, Coleridge wrote "Kubla Khan" while tripping on opium, thinking of a 300-line poem. His trip was interrupted by the arrival of the postman, and he only wrote out about a third of the finished piece. While sober, he quickly wrote four lines to wrap things up.

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To every Realm shall Peace her Charms display, and Heavenly Freedom spread her gold Ray.

Phillis Wheatley was born in what is now Senegal or Gambia and was brought to America as a slave. She was purchased by the Wheatley family, who saw and encouraged her genius and eventually freed her. Despite her brilliance, her patriotism, and the popularity of her work, sadly she died in poverty - but at the very least, her legacy long outlived her captors and oppressors.

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I am his Highness' dog at Kew;%0DPray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?

We could have given you a Pope quote like "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread", "A little learning is a dangerous thing", "The proper study of Mankind is Man", "To err is human, to forgive, divine", "The world forgetting, by the world forgot / Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!" but those would be too easy this late in the game! Instead, we gave you this obscure epigram, which has the distinction of having been written for Pope's friend, the Prince of Wales. This poem was engraved on the collar of a dog who Pope gifted to the Prince, then resident at the royal palace at Kew. So don't feel bad if you didn't get this one; you learned something fun!

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I'm not the first or the last to stand on a hillock, watching the man she married%0Dprove to the world he's a total, utter, absolute, Grade A pillock.

Carol Ann Duffy is a former British Poet Laureate, best known for the incredible bestselling collection known as "The World's Wife." Duffy writes poems from the point of view of the wives and female family members of famous male figures in history. The question quotes Mrs. Icarus. Others include Mrs. Aesop, Pilate's wife, Frau Freud, and even Elvis' twin sister, giving a voice to the voiceless and reminding us that history doesn't always tell us all the facts.

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